3 Yemeni soldiers killed in offensive against Al-Qaeda

Recruits from the Yemeni counter-terrorism forces show their skills during a graduation ceremony. 3 Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes with Al-Qaeda on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2017

3 Yemeni soldiers killed in offensive against Al-Qaeda

ADEN: At least three soldiers were killed in clashes with Al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen in an operation launched by the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, security sources said.
They said at least 10 other soldiers were wounded when troops were ambushed east of the coastal city of Shuqra on Tuesday. Intense clashes were continuing on Wednesday.
The sources said that Hadi forces, backed by aircraft of a Saudi-led coalition, were targeting Shuqra when they were surprised by the militants. One military vehicle overturned, another was destroyed and two were captured, they said.
The incident highlighted the obstacles facing Hadi’s government as it struggles to wipe out Al-Qaeda while simultaneously trying to defeat Houthi fighters in a war that has lasted nearly two years and killed more than 10,000 people.
In August, the Yemeni Army drove Al-Qaeda out of two strongholds in the same region in a campaign in which at least 40 militants were killed.
The United States, which sees the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda as a threat to its own security, said last month it had killed 28 militants in nine strikes in the Arab country since September.
The group has exploited the civil war between Hadi’s government and the Houthis, aligned with Iran, to recruit followers and expand its influence across the country, especially in the south and east.
In other parts of Yemen, clashes were reported between Hadi supporters and fighters from the Houthi group and their allies in the southwestern city of Taiz, the northern province of Saada and in Shabwa in the southeast.
The Hadi-run sabanew.net news agency reported “major gains” in Shabwa province, but residents said that the battlefront had changed little in other parts of the country.
On Tuesday, reports said that Hadi’s forces attacked Al-Qaeda, killing 15 terrorists but losing 11 of their own troops.
Security officials said the fighting began when Hadi’s troops backed by the coalition attacked an Al-Qaeda stronghold in the Marakasha mountains in Abyan province, east of the southern city of Aden.

Navy destroyer’s Beirut visit a ‘security reminder’: US envoy

Updated 18 min 32 sec ago

Navy destroyer’s Beirut visit a ‘security reminder’: US envoy

BEIRUT: The US Navy destroyer USS Ramage docked at the port of Beirut for 24 hours as a “security reminder,” according to Elizabeth Richard, the US ambassador to Lebanon.

“The US Navy is not far away, and Our ships were often near the Mediterranean, and will remain so,” the American envoy said.

Ricard and Vice Admiral James J. Malloy – the commander of the 5th Fleet – whose area of responsibility includes the waters of Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, hosted ‘an on-board reception for US and Lebanese officials.’

USS Ramage is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, named after Vice Admiral Lawson P. Ramage, a notable submarine commander and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. The ship specializes in destroying guided missiles launched from warships, aside from providing multiple offensive and defensive tasks.

Richard assured that “the security and stability in the East Mediterranean are of utmost importance to the United States and to Lebanon as well, and with regards to the issue of oil derivatives that concerns more than one state in the region, we hope that Lebanon joins in, as the issue of maritime security will soon acquire more importance.”

She assured that: “the presence of the USA in these waters is of common interest, and the presence of the American destroyer in Lebanon is a political message.”

Richard also said that partnership with Lebanon was not limited to military cooperation, and that the USA is “committed to help the Lebanese people through this period of economic hardship, and to supporting the Lebanese institutions that defend Lebanese sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Admiral Malloy said during the reception that “our military relations with Lebanon transcends the issue of military hardware, and the Lebanese armed forces have set plans to improve its naval capabilities, and the USA will continue playing the primary role in supporting these efforts.”

Built in 1993, the USS Ramage was put into active service in 1995 with a crew of almost 300 officers and enlisted personnel. It is 154 meters long and 20 meters and could reach a top speed of 30 knots, or 56 kilometers per hour.